Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man are classics, but the quest for indie comics proves to be bountiful and rewarding when treasures like the mini-series Boston Metaphysical Society are uncovered. For those who haven’t had a history of “new comic Wednesdays” and comic con road trips, reading a supernatural period piece featuring historical characters like Harry Houdini and Nikola Tesla offers something unique and intriguing. Easily a series that could be enjoyed by men and women of any age, it effortlessly appeals to all with it’s history, artwork, and supernatural aspect.
Opening with a rather unexpected loss, we meet the four founders of B.E.T.H. (a secret organization) and the leading lady, Caitlin, who is not only beautifully illustrated, but also very underestimated. Tagging along to fill a vacancy left by tragedy, she attempts to navigate not only a supernatural world, but a male-driven world as well. Using her skills and natural knack for her father’s work in spirit photography, she proves her place and hints at more character layers.
Aside from the brilliant artwork, the writer/creator, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, is an award winning screenwriter, which is evident as the transitions from panel to panel are seamless and perfectly executed. When asking about her influences and inspiration, it only drives readers to want to know more about her, and wait in anticipation to see what she has for them in the future. In an interview with Comics and Cashmere, Holly-Rosing gives us an insight into her process and background.
CC: This comic is different than most comics that I’ve read. What inspired you to do a comic set in a different time?
MHR: The story was originally a TV Pilot that I wrote while I was at UCLA Film School. It was well received, but due to the expense of making a period piece it was suggested I adapt it into comic book form. As for the story itself, I’m a huge history fan as well as science fiction and this story was a melding of my two favorite things. I love watching period pieces either in film or TV, so it was a very natural thing for me to write a story set in a different time.
CC: What role did comics have in your life growing up?
MHR: Not much. My brother was (and still is) a superhero fan. In fact, he probably has the largest graded Daredevil collection in the U.S. Growing up, I thought all comics were either Archie or superheroes and they didn’t hold a candle to The Lord of the Rings, The Dragon Riders of Pern series, Ray Bradbury or Asimov. It wasn’t until I started developing the comic that I discovered independent comics and they were amazing. All those fresh original stories and great art hooked me in immediately.
CC: Who, or what, was your biggest influence behind this comic?
MHR: I was very fortunate in that I took Nunzio De Fillippi’s Sequential Art Class at UCLA Extension. Not only is he a fabulous teacher (and now a friend), but he really believed in the project and gave me terrific advice and sent me on the path I’m on now. I was also fortunate in having amazing classmates all of whom gave me valuable advice and guidance. Christina Strain, writer of The Fox Sister and former colorist at Marvel, taught me about finding and working with an artist as well as the ins and outs of working at a Comic Con. George Wassil, another classmate, and I ended up traveling to Cons together and we were both nominated for Best Comic/Graphic Novel at the 2014 Geekie Awards. George won and I was thrilled for him, but it’s fun to think that we developed our stories together and gave each other notes. Another mentor and now friend is Dave Elliott of A1/Atomeka Press. I met him through a mutual friend and he arranged for my colorists, Gloria and Fahriza. His advice has also been invaluable. I guess my point is nothing is created in a vacuum.
CC: For fun, if you could become any fictional character in comics, film, or television, who would you be and why?
MHR: Xena, I think. I love the Ellen Ripley character, but I think I’d like to live without the angst Ripley has. As Xena, I could be outdoors and not stuck in front of the computer. Plus, I could use a sword and take out bad guys. BTW, if you’ve read some of my other interviews you would know that I use to fence epee competitively so the whole sword thing comes naturally.
CC: Since there are actual historical figures in this comic, how much research did you have to do?
MHR: I had already done a ton of research into this time period due to a script I wrote while I was at UCLA Film School. The script was called Stargazer and I wrote it to submit for the Sloan Fellowship. (The Sloan Fellowship requires that scripts and/or films show scientists/engineers as real people and not caricatures. Also, the science involved has to be accurate. No science fiction, space aliens or zombies allowed.) Based on the real life Scottish-American astronomer Mina Fleming, the script was about how in the late 1800’s she arrived in this country pregnant, penniless and abandoned by her husband. Working as a maid in the house of the director of the Harvard Observatory, Mina was eventually hired on as what was known then as a female “computer” and eventually discovered over 10,000 stars and developed a new stellar classification system. Stargazer won.
My husband can tell you that my office had towers of books and reference material all over the floor. I was even able to get copies of microfiche from France that had newspaper articles about the “female computers” at the Harvard Observatory from the late 1800’s as well as a business school thesis breaking down how the women’s labor at the observatory was organized. Not to mention research into what was popular entertain at the time as well as cultural mores.
The mini-series is currently on Kickstarter with fantastic perks that readers will definitely want to take advantage of. Please head over to the Kickstarter campaign and take a look, donate, and share. All links are below!
Kickstarter: Boston Metaphysical Society Link!